KIGALI – Authorities in Rwanda have discovered a mass grave containing about 30,000 bodies of victims of the 1994 genocide that claimed an estimated one million people.
The mass grave, which was found in a valley dam located in Kigali, was discovered following a tip off by people who had been jailed over genocide and have now completed their sentences.
Naphtal Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of genocide survivor organization Ibuka, said that they have now embarked on exhuming the bodies for a decent burial.
However, the exhuming of bodies is now a challenge as the country is in lockdown over coronavirus.
Ahishakiye said that the dam was dug years before the genocide to provide water for rice farming.
The discovery comes as Rwanda on Tuesday, April 7, marks the 26th anniversary of the genocide.
On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying Rwanda President Juvenale Habyarimana and Burundi’s president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down over the capital city of Kigali, leaving no survivors. It has never been conclusively determined who the culprits were. Some have blamed Hutu extremists, while others blamed leaders of the RPF.
Within an hour of the plane crash, the Presidential Guard, together with members of the Rwandan armed forces (FAR) and Hutu militia groups known as the Interahamwe (“Those Who Attack Together”) and Impuzamugambi (“Those Who Have the Same Goal”), set up roadblocks and barricades and began slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus with impunity.
Among the first victims of the genocide were the moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers, killed on April 7. This violence created a political vacuum, into which an interim government of extremist Hutu Power leaders from the military high command stepped on April 9.